His Dark Materials Review: An Epic Fantasy Journey for the whole family

His Dark Materials Review: An Epic Fantasy Journey for the whole family

Sameer Mitha | 19 Nov 2019

His Dark Materials is based on the series by Philip Pullman.

The show airs every Monday, on Hotstar.

His Dark Materials is a fantasy novel trilogy by Philip Pullman and has been adapted into a TV show which airs on Hotstar and Star World. The work of Philip Pullman was earlier adapted into a movie called The Golden Compass starring Daniel Craig. The movie sadly wasn't a success. Fast forward to 2019 and we have His Dark Materials. Put simply, the show is gripping with its premise and stunning with its visuals. We got to watch the first 4 episodes which are half of Season 1 and here’s what we thought.

The Underdog Hero

The premise of the show follows the journey of a young girl, Lyra Belacqua played by Dafne Keen. We were gripped by her performance in 2017’s Logan and her performance is quite captivating in His Dark Materials. She is an orphan girl (or so she’s been told) living in Oxford in an institute filled with promising minds. But let's back up for a second. The events of HDM takes place in an alternate world which is much like ours except for one major thing, each and every individual is accompanied by a ‘demon’. From birth to death, the human is accompanied by his/her demon, and staying far away from the demon will cause both of them harm. The demon can take the shape of any animal but when the human comes of age, the demon needs to settle to one permanent animal form, be it a bird, a snake, a cat, a dog, a lion, a tiger, a butterfly, and more. The human-demon relationship is a key plot point of the show. There are also ‘other worlds’ and without spoiling too much, just like Stephen King’s Dark Tower, travel between these worlds is possible. 

Coming back to our leading lady, young Lyra Belacqua, is adopted by a Mrs Coulter and is taken to London where she uncovers details of a plot where children are kidnapped. She flees from the residence of Mrs Coulter and joins a band of Gypsies who are out looking for their missing children. We also have the ever-charming James McAvoy in the role of Lyra’s uncle Lord Asriel who has uncovered the existence of something called Dust which has stirred up controversy and made him the centre of attention for some very bad people.

Since I haven't read the books, I can't comment on how true it stays to the plot but one thing is certain - the casting of characters is top-notch, their performance gripping and the pacing of the plot is fast enough to keep you at the edge of your seat throughout each episode. Since the show is released weekly, I am patiently waiting for episode 5 as episode 4 end at the formation of a group of unlikely companions heading towards danger to save the day - a lot like the Fellowship of the ring. 

The world is just like ours, yet different

The world where HDM is set is very similar to ours yet different. Technology hasn’t advanced at the same pace it has in our world, but the mystic arts take presidency. There is a device called the Alethiometer which can answer any question truthfully. Getting the answer is tricky as understanding the symbols on the Alethiometer is a science. However, Lyra has mastered the art of reading it without any formal training. There are other mysteries as well such as a talking warrior bear and spy beetles but we’ll let you come across them when you watch the show. 

A binge-worthy show?

If you are looking for a family-friendly show, one that adults and children can watch together, enjoy discuss and look forward to, then yes, His Dark Materials is the one for you. Even if you are one that enjoys the fantasy genre like Harry Potter, or the Earthsea Quartet, then there is enough for you to enjoy here. Sadly, we have one episode releasing each week so if you want to binge, you’ll have to wait for all eight episodes. His Dark Materials is a great fantasy show and you can catch it every Monday, on Hotstar. 

Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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